Saturday, 12 April 2014

Magical Garden Cafe

It was a nice breezy night as we entered an lovely cafe with several bamboo salas scattered around the leafy garden. Each sala has a name on it - these are gifts from generous donors from Singapore who supported the Magical Light Foundation, a non-religious, non-profit organisation that is dedicated to building schools for underprivileged children in Northern Thailand and Myanmar. The proceeds from Magical Garden Cafe is used to support Magical Light Foundation's projects to help educate local and hill-tribe children.



Within 6 months of opening, Magical Garden Cafe has shot up to rank no 6 of listed restaurants in Chiang Mai on TripAdvisor. I was curious if the cafe lived up to its fame when my trusty foodie friends took me to have dinner there.

The ambience was certainly very nice and relaxed. Peter and Shii Hua, the people behind the foundation and the cafe, were very friendly. The food by Chef Noi, a local Thai chef, was great. The food did come out quite slowly, but was worth the wait.

First up to quench our thirst - Strawberry Fruit Shake. 55 baht. Nice and refreshing blend of strawberries and ice, very thick, almost like a thick shake! Didn't have to ask for "mai wan" ("not sweet"). I wouldn't mind some now, actually.. since it's been SO hot!


The spicy fries (45 baht). Very nicely done, dusted with paprika to give a slight punch (very slight!). The Seasonal Greens salad (85 baht) - very fresh and lovely with the honey mustard dressing. There are also two other choices of dressings - Thai and Oriental Soy Sauce. 


The Bruschetta (75 baht)  - Tomato and Basil & Mashed Eggplant with hard boiled egg served on Toasted Baguette. The tomato and basil bruschetta was very good, but I loved the mashed eggplant with hard boiled egg.. that was WOW!  I was quite amazed that eggplants and eggs go so well together!


The Hummus was lovely too. (75 baht). You have a choice of chickpeas, broccoli, or roasted tomatoes hummus, served with cucumber and carrot sticks. We opted for the chickpea hummus, which was really great.


Magical Garden Cafe also has some Thai dishes. We had the Crispy Morning Glory Salad. (65 baht) which consisted of deep fried morning glory leaves in a Thai dressing - tangy, slightly spicy, salty, all in one. Very nice and loved the crunch!


The verdict:

I really like Magical Garden Cafe. The ambience is lovely, and the food is great too! The servings are on the small size (more like snack sizes), but that also means we can try many dishes. The food did come out quite slowly, so please be patient. Very nice, dedicated, friendly staff.

The proceeds, as mentioned earlier, does go to a great cause to help underprivileged children get an education, and Peter and Shii Hua are doing an excellent job keeping everything running.

If you would like to volunteer or help in anyway, please talk to Peter and Shii Hua. They would really appreciate it, so will the children!

Magical Garden Cafe
24 Sriwichai Rd,
Suthep, Chiang Mai 50220
(Behind Wat Suan Dok)
Tel: 093 135 3288
Opens daily (Except Wednesdays) 5pm-10pm
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/magicalgardencafe/

Note: Magical Garden Cafe will be close during Songkran 2014 for renovations. Please check their Facebook page for details!



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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Midnight Fried Chicken / Sticky Rice

Hungry late at night? Look no further than this institution that has been in Chiang Mai pretty much forever...Midnight Sticky Rice / Fried Chicken. Opens from 11pm-5am!

Notice I'm mixing up the name.. just because it's pretty much known as Midnight Fried Chicken (or rather, the Thai equivalent of it!), but many people also call them Midnight Sticky Rice.


The place was packed when we arrived at around 11:40 pm.


Midnight Fried Chicken provides the standard lanna (Northern Thai) fare including Nam Prik Noom (Green chilli dip),  and fried dishes including chicken (of course), pork, intestines, saiua (Northern Thai sausages),  boiled duck eggs, ....


My favourite was the deep fried 3 layer pork (50 baht - small plate) - very tasty! The chicken (50-55 baht - small plate) was also very good, but I would love it to be hot when served. Really liked the deep fried intestines too (25 baht - small plate)... a bit crunchy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. Nam Prik Noom (Green chilli dip) was also very good.

Notice no eating utensils here.. we eat the Northern Thai way.. with our fingers. Pick up the sticky rice and then pick up the chilli dip. Finger licking good!

The price worked out to be about 100 baht/person. A very satisfying meal and we were all ready for bed after filling up our very hungry stomachs!

Midnight Fried Chicken
Kamphaengdin Rd
Near Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and just down the road from Imperial Mae Ping Hotel.
Opens 11pm-5am.
Check out their facebook page for details of other branches!





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Sunday, 9 March 2014

David's Kitchen @99

First impressions. Long winding driveway through a picturesque park and manicured lawn, white restaurant with terrace. Lovely lawn and garden area leading to the river bank. Very genuine and warm, slightly formal welcome by the owner, Khun David and his staff. I must say the setting  and the service is fantastic, as you would expect from a fine dining restaurant.


We decided to dine indoors. The indoor setting was lovely too. Elegant and little formal, yet still quite simple and unpretentious. There was a lot of attention to details, like a little welcome card on the table with my name on it.

I think Khun David tries really hard to provide exceptional service and to look after the customers. I suggested some cushions for the wooden chairs as they were a little comfortable for shorter ladies like grandma, who was dining with us, and Khun David wrote me an email later in the week to say that they're going to replace the chairs with more comfortable ones!


Our waitress was excellent too, and recommended some great dishes (in case you were wondering about the food!).

BTW, the chef and partner of the business has worked at Farang Ses restaurant at Dhara Dhevi Hotel and also at Le Crystal.. pretty impressive credentials.

Classic Ceasar Salad - very nicely done with a herby dressing with a hint of anchovy. The croutons were great too made from herbed bread. 180 baht.


Pumpking Soup - what can I say, but it tastes just like the one I make at home (which means it's great!.. LOL), but creamier, and served with truffle cream (I don't have truffle cream at home!) and the croutons.  I do find the soup quite salty though. 160 baht. 


Braised Lamb Shank. Firstly, I must say that I don't eat a lot of meat, let alone lamb. Admittedly, I did have some lamb in a couple of restaurants in previous posts, as I wanted to try something different from what I normally have. I don't really know what lamb is supposed to be like. However, I did enjoy it. It was so tender meat was falling from the bone. The gravy was good too, but again, quite salty for me... and it was HUGE! 690 baht.


Grandma went for the Steamed Snow Fish, which turned out to be really lovely. 720 baht.


Other dishes available from David's Kitchen include various pasta dishes, priced from 220 baht - 380 baht. They are also starting new Thai fusion menu soon as well.

So all in all, a lovely restaurant. Beautiful setting, great food, lovely staff, great service. The price may seem high, but I think it's quite reasonable for what you get. Would love to go back to try more dishes, especially the Thai fusion!

David's Kitchen @99
99/9 Moo 3, Sanphiseur Rd
Sanphiseur, Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 110 732
Opens:
Mon: 10am-11pm
Wed - Sun: 10am-11pm
Facebook page




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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Fiore Rosa - Homemade Italian in Doi Saket

Dining at Fiore Rosa is like going to a friend's place for dinner...not just any friend though..a friend who can cook, and is passionate about cooking.

Roberto and his wife, Khun Dao makes a great team. As soon as we sat down, Roberto, the man behind the kitchen, started recommending and explaining recommended dishes straight away.

The first dish.. Beef Capaccio - I've had this before a couple of times at other Italian restaurants, but didn't actually know that Beef Capaccio is actually raw beef until Roberto told us, and the reality of its rawness dawned on me when the paper thin, super fresh, bright red beef slices came topped with cheese, rockets and I think, lemon juice (as opposed to lime). I never knowingly eat anything raw except for sashimi, so I told myself, I've eaten capaccio before..just eat it! ..And I was glad I did, because it was lovely! The cheese on the beef was very creamy and smooth, and the lemon added a slight hint of tanginess.  170 baht.


Mediterranean Salad - This was also beautiful in terms of looks and taste! Comprised of lovely salad greens, anchovies pieces which added a nice accent to the salad, fetta cheese (mmmm!) and olives. The dressing was lovely and light. 130 baht.




Fish Fillet in olive oil, vinegrette, lemon and almonds served on a bed of spinach. This was SO good.. very, very special. Never had anything like it before. Gorgeous and smooth with a lovely rounded fragance of what I think is almond and lemon wedge that has been placed in the pan with the fish.

Roberto explained that we should never squeeze lemon juice on the fish, rather, the lemon should be placed in the pan. Squeezing lemon juice on the fish will "kill" it. Wow.

Very good value at 160 baht.


Unfortunately, that's all us 2 ladies could fit in that night, well we did have some very nice house red wine as well. I guess we'll just have to come back. Would definitely want to have the fish fillet again, but also want to try other dishes to....choices, choices!

The other great thing about Fiore Rosa is the ambience... very casual and relaxed. You have a choice of dining outside or in an air-conditioned room indoors.

Getting there involves driving down a windy road passing through rice fields, which feels almost like an adventure!


Fiore Rosa
Opens: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-9:00pm
(It's a shame they don't open Sundays otherwise I would go quite often!)
Tel: 053 039 221; 085 032 5865






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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Casa Diverso (Mediterranean and Thai Food)

I was kindly invited by Khun Oh, the ex-manager of Oyori The Grill to come and try out his recently opened Mediterranean and Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai's Old City. Khun Oh and his partner, Chef Lek have a lot of experience in the hospitality industry, having worked in Pattaya, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Their  dream is to open their own restaurant one day, and Casa Diverso is that dream coming true!

The Casa Diverso is in a lovely spot, just around the corner from The Rim Hotel. There's a large outdoor dining area in the garden, and also a rather stylishly decorated indoors area, giving the restaurant a classy, but still relaxed and warm feel.


I was quite surprised by the menu offering both a large selection of European food and Thai food as I was expecting only European food. My friends and I all opted for European food, but I would think the Thai food would be good as well. I hope I'll have the opportunity to go back soon to try the Thai food and other items on the menu!

Some very nice bread with herbed and garlic butter was served.

A green salad was ordered as an entree....and it was... green!...comprised of various types of nice and crispy lettuce with balsamic dressing.


Bruschetta Mozzarella Cheese was highly recommended by Khun Oh. It was lovely with chunky pieces of tomato, mozzarella cheese, and pesto sauce. The bruschetta was quite large and a little hard to eat gracefully without using the knife and fork. 120 baht. 


For my main course, I chose the Grilled Pork Tenderloin (very, very juicy and tender!), which was topped with a blueberry gravy sauce. The gravy was cooked a couple of days in the traditional way, and the blueberry gave the sauce a slightly sweet tang. The potato wedges were great too! 320 baht.


I didn't try this one, but my friend reported that the slow cooked salmon was very good, served with horseradish sauce, as well as pesto sauce on the side. 340 baht.


I just had a little taste of the Spaghetti Alle Vongole - a very simple pasta with clams, oil, garlic and parsley. It was lovely and fragrant, and quite spicy! Very good as well. I wouldn't mind going back to have this all to myself next time!



For dessert, we shared a rather large Creme Brulee (120 baht) which was spectacularly "torched" in front of us by Khun Oh. It was nice, creamy and smooth, but unfortunately, quite sweet. I mentioned this to Khun Oh, and he was really happy to receive the feedback. He seems very dedicated to providing good service and making customers happy. :-)


We all had a very enjoyable time, and we all thought the food at Casa Diverso was great, and the prices very reasonable. Definitely a place we can go back to, and I'm happy we have another quality addition to the Chiang Mai eating scene!

Casa Diverso
184/1 Rachamankha Rd
Phrasing, Chiang Mai.
(Old City)
Opens daily: 11am-11pm
Tel: 084 174 0699




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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

My Secret Cafe

Yes, this charming cafe really lives up to the name, and I do wish that it really is a secret... Which means I shouldn't really write a post about this! LOL

When a friend first took me to this rather well hidden location... my first thought was... wow! This is rather adventurous.... Then it was... where on earth are you taking me? She took me through a beautiful tree lined street, crossed a little canal, over a dirt road, and into a rather bushy carpark with no building in sight.

A short stroll through a row of roses later, a pink house appeared. I excitedly quickened my step towards this littIe cafe. I could see immediately that this would be a very nice and relaxing place to hang around for the afternoon.


The decor is an eclectic mix of antiques from various places, but somehow they work! The cafe itself is very comfortable and cosy.



If you like to have a bit of a walk afterwards to burn off some calories, you'll also be able to wander the grounds of My Secret Cafe, may be say hello to the resident dogs and horse, walk over to the large pond and check out the guest house.


Ja Jaa, the lovely young Thai owner lived in the UK for about 10 years, and studied cookery at an Irish country hotel before returning to Thailand, which explains the unusual (for Chiang Mai) country style cakes in the cafe...At My Secret Cafe, you'll be sampling homemade cakes such as Peach and Kumquat Upside down Cake (90 baht), GCC- Giant Cookie Cake (90 baht), Apple Cake (80 baht), and more..

The Peach and Kumquat Upside down Cake was nice and moist - quite lovely, and with chunks of peaches and kumquats providing a nice contrast of flavours and texture.

The GCC was exactly that - a giant cookie. Nice, chunky and rich.

We also had the brownie, which was very lovely and rich with all the chocolaty goodness. Perfect for a chocolate fix.

In terms of beverages, I ordered a Nutella cocoa drink. It was quite nice, but wasn't very hot when served. 65 baht. Hot coffee here cost about 55-65 baht.

....all these between two people...we were extremely full!

From front and going clockwise - GCC (Giant Cookie Cake),
Peach & Kumquat Upside Down Cake & Chocolate Brownie

The second time I visited with my family one afternoon, there weren't many cakes left. However, Ja Jaa was making fresh waffles - Thai Tea Caramel Waffles (with caramel sauce that has been infused with Thai tea) and Chocolate Chip Waffles. We ordered one of each and they both were fantastic - warm, crispy on the outside, richly flavoured and soft on the inside. They were great ... some of the nicest waffles I've had!


All in all, we all really enjoyed My Secret Cafe. It's such a charming place, and very relaxing. A perfect get away for an afternoon. The homemade country style cakes are lovely and very different from what you'd get elsewhere. Really worth visiting!

My Secret Cafe
10/4 Moo 3
T. Sanpheeseur A. Muang
Chiang Mai
Tel: 081 499 9911
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Secret-Cafe/160854730624889
Opens: Tue-Sun 10:30am-5pm



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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Shang Garden @ Shangri-La Hotel

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone has the most wonderful and happiest year ever, and of course, filled with delicious food!

Today, we will visit Shangri-La Hotel's new Chinese Restaurant - Shang Garden, a much welcomed addition-at least to me, and I'm sure to many Chiang Mai residents!... and it's not just any Chinese restaurant... it's a restaurant that offers dimsum... and the food is great!

Shang Garden's Hong Kong chef, Jackie Chan, came from Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok....So things are already looking pretty good! After my first dinner at Shang Garden on 30th Dec 2013, I was very impressed with the food, and the price seemed pretty reasonable for the quality, but the service that night though, was very lacking and slow. It could be that they were quite short staffed, but we decided we could put up with the slow and not so great service (as the food was so good) and go back to have a dimsum lunch before my brother and his family go back to Australia in the afternoon. Fortunately, the service this time was much better, but the tea refilling rate was still pretty slow so we had to rely on a bit of self-service there. (It's not a big deal, but you'd expect the service to be perfect in a 5 star hotel, and especially if you'll be paying 10% service charge on top of the food prices.)

OK...on with the food review!

Deep Fried Mashed Taro with Shrimp and Chicken. This is my brother's favourite dimsum dish. It's very nicely done at Shang Garden, very nice "pastry", firm yet crumbly, with mild filling with subtle flavours. It was served kind of luke warm though... would have been better if it came out hotter. 140 baht.


Xiao Long Pao - steamed pork dumplings (with soup inside). Very nice skin and lovely soft pork filling. Be careful eating these though, as the skin is quite delicate. If you accidentally poke a hole in the "skin", some of the soup might leak out! 70 baht.


Baked BBQ Pork Pastries - (front dish in the photo below) - These were great! Buttery melt in your mouth pastry with sweetish BBQ pork filling. 60 baht.

Steamed Crispy Rice Rolls with Shrimp - (back of photo)  This is a really special and surprising dish. Highly recommended if you come to Shang Garden. Looks kind of ordinary, but as I bite into the soft looking "fresh spring roll", there is a surprising crunch!  There's a crispy spring roll inside the rice paper wrapping. Served with hoisin sauce. 90 baht.


Crispy Noodles with Seafood - This is also a pretty special dish. Lovely crispy noodles (which is also pretty nice eaten by itself) with stir-fried seafood and vegies with lots of gravy/thick soup which you put on the crispy noodles. The noodles stayed kind of crispy and a little chewy in the gravy - very nice. 460 baht.


My 6 year old nephew and 3 year old niece (who are rather fussy eaters) loved the Steamed BBQ Pork buns so much  2 extra servings were ordered to take on the plane. I thought the buns were rather nice too - the "skin" very soft and smooth. 60 baht.

The total bill for 5 very full adults and 2 kids came to about 2700 baht (including tax and service charge).



Shang Garden
Shangri-La Hotel

Opens:
Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: 6pm-10pm

Tel: 053 253 888

Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/chiangmai/shangrila/dining/restaurants/shang-garden/



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